Joe Johns speaks on the state of the First Amendment at Campbellsville University’s annual Media Appreciation Luncheon

Joe Johns speaks on the state of the First Amendment at Campbellsville University’s annual Media Appreciation Luncheon

By Josh Christian, student news writer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — “The basis of our First Amendment right is to be able to ask a question of someone in power and the right to publish their response,” Joe Johns, a CNN senior Washington correspondent, said at Campbellsville University’s 14th annual Media Appreciation Luncheon April 12 in the Banquet Hall of the Badgett Academic Support Center.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances,” Johns read from the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Johns spoke on the state of the First Amendment throughout his address, saying it was “stronger now than it has been any other time of my life.”

“It is strong right now because journalists are standing up and asking the questions and are publishing the answers,” Johns said.

“I don’t think there is a lot of reason to be afraid. We have access to public officials, and we are asking the tough questions. As long as this continues, the First Amendment will remain strong,” Johns said.

Johns said the recent attacks on journalists were a part of the institution, as the institution of journalism has always been adversarial to the government.

He then spoke on his rules of good journalism as is his custom when speaking to an audience that included journalism students.

Some of the rules included the issue of questions, cultivating curiosity, understanding the elements of a good story and having backbone.

“The most important stories are when your truth meets another’s truth, and they collide,” Johns said.

“We all want to see what happens next.”

Johns then addressed the question of bias in the media.

“We [the media] are often accused of being biased,” Johns said.

“Journalism is a human endeavor and all humans bring their own history and views to the enterprise. News happens when two truths find themselves at odds with one another, but facts are facts and there are no alternate facts.”

Johns said there is a “sacred trust” between the public and the institution of journalism, and it is the people’s right to have information.

Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Campbellsville University, also brought a campus update at the media luncheon.

“We have just reached a record enrollment of 10,000 students,” Hedgepath said.

“This growth is due to the growth in dual enrollment students, online programs and regional centers,” Hedgepath said. She said the number of dual enrollment students has almost tripled.

Hedgepath also said Campbellsville University has her first Ph.D. program in management.

Stan McKinney, associate professor of journalism and lead professor for mass communication at Campbellsville University, also gave out several awards during the luncheon.

Steeley Shacklette, a junior at Campbellsville University from Elizabethtown, Ky., was awarded the Stan and Joan Cottongim McKinney Mass Communication Scholarship.

Matt Wehle, a senior at Campbellsville University from Mechanicsville, Va., was also the winner of the Mass Communication Photographer of the Year contest and received his plaque during the luncheon.

McKinney also awarded and recognized the Kentucky Press Association for its support and educational opportunities for Kentucky high school journalism students over the past 21 years with the Kentucky High School Journalism Association which is now under Campbellsville University.

WAVE 3 TV of Louisville, Ky. was also recognized and given an award for their exemplary media service.

Members of the Edwards O’Banion American Legion Post 82# and Chaplain Steven Orr presented colors and prayed during the luncheon. They were also part of sponsoring an American Bald Eagle, Patriot, from the Liberty Nature Center in Somerset, Ky., which was present for pictures before the event.

Déja Thompson, a senior at Campbellsville University from Adairville, Ky., sang the National Anthem, and Jamie Lawrence, church outreach marketing coordinator and head bowling coach at Campbellsville University, played luncheon music.

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